There’s so much up in the air at Manchester City right now.
Six months ago, the reigning Premier League champions thought they’d be locked in a tense title race with Liverpool going into the final 13 matches of the season.
Instead, Pep Guardiola finds himself at a club 22 points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s leaders and accused of falsely inflating their sponsorship revenues to cheat Financial Fair Play regulations.
Beyond stripping City of the right to qualify for and compete in the Champions League and Europa League until 2022, UEFA’s decision could inflict even more damage to the club.
The Citizens have rarely if ever been exposed to such uncertainty since the club was taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008.
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The most pressing issue concerns the respective futures of Guardiola and the star-studded squad he’s put together at the Etihad between 2016 and now.
Would they want to stick out two years with no European football if City’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is unsuccessful?
Well, the general secretary of City’s official supporters’ club expects Guardiola and his players to do nothing else.
“I would like to think that because Manchester City have been very loyal to Pep Guardiola [he would stay],” Kevin Parker told talkSPORT.
“Basically the whole football club is now structured around Pep Guardiola. They’ve given him money to bring in the players he wanted to sign. Everything in the club is built to Pep.
“So if, after all of sudden we’re not going to be in the Champions League, Pep decides that he’s going to do one, that would be very disappointing.
“We would expect some loyalty from Pep and some loyalty from some players who are already with us.
“I do accept the impact may be for players we try to attract to bring in, but for the players who are already part of the process, I must be honest I would be very disappointed if they suddenly decided, ‘you know what, with no Champions League next season I‘m going to do one’.
“That would disappoint us.”
It’s difficult to imagine the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling happily spending two years of the peak of their career away from Europe’s premier club competition.
As for Guardiola, there’s every chance he’ll receive a phone call or two from around the continent if City fail to overturn their ban.
Ultimately, the Citizens will need to spend this summer putting all their resources into building a case to get themselves off the hook.
But if the worst-case scenario does become reality, they’ll also need a contingency plan to deal with any potential exodus.